Imagine picking up that NYT bestseller in hardcover format in the bookstore, only to discover that it was filled with ads. That frightening scenario may not be unrealistic for e-books, at least that’s the takeaway from the recent MediaBistro e-Book Summit. Industry insiders met and lamented the viability of continuing the $9.99 e-book price without ads to augment the gains to the publishers.
The $9.99 price has been put in place by Amazon for Kindle e-books, and other retailers have matched it to be competitive. A panel consisting of representatives of Random House, Skiff and Adobe, made it clear that this price is not sufficient to support content creation and distribution. They put forth the idea that ads in the content would be the way to augment that low price to make their business worthwhile.
I am not surprised to hear the Skiff representative take the route of ads in digital content. I had the pleasure of doing an in-depth look at the new Skiff venture (subscription required), and it was clear to me that Skiff sees ad sales as a big part of its digital content distribution efforts to come. The company’s own statements bear this out in detail:
Newspaper, magazine and blog publishers will also be able to sell and integrate display advertising alongside the content that Skiff delivers, adding value for consumers and marking the maturation of e-reading into a mainstream media type.
The introduction of ads into traditional e-books would be lamentable. Reading an e-book should be the same experience as reading the paper equivalent, and that spells no ads in the content.